Saturday, 28 February 2009

Preparing kit

Unfortunately the wind has dropped off today so we couldn't get out out kite skiing. Today has been a busy day preparing equipment for a week long expedition instead.

It is always important to test kit in the environment you wish to use it in before departing. You then need to make changes. Biggest change was sowing in a whole new pocket to the front of my thermal top to keep batteries warm.

We are now off, so stay tuned to hear how it goes ...

Friday, 27 February 2009

A day using kites

Today I we awoke to not just the groaning of the sea ice beneath us but also the flapping of sides of the tent.

Today would be a windy day and with it a very cold day with the added wind chill factor.

I rolled over and peaked out of my sleeping bag at my thermometer, it read -25'c, the wind was a steady 30-35km per hour making it feel more like -40'c!

This was however just what we had been hoping for, it maybe a tad chilly but the wind was up and that meant ... Kite Skiing.

Kite skiing is another form of transport in the polar world. Sarah and Eric Mcnair skied across Greenland in just 7 days and back from the south pole in an amazing 12 days.

So into the wind we went to master the skills for handling kites. Training started on small kites which steadily got bigger until we were all sliding around the bay. Fingers crossed that the wind will stay high so we can combine our new kite skills to skiing tomorrow.

Another great day with new skills learnt, although very cold.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Questions from Plymstock School

Reply to John Nash;

Hi John, good question on Inuit clothing. The Inuit have always lived off the land for their clothing as well as their food. Their Pakas (jackets) tend to be made out of Caribou. Their gloves and men's trousers are made from polar bear but only if your a good hunter. If not then dog hair can also be used. Boots are made from seal skin.

When white men started to appear then they also started to trade and make items from wool.

Hunting has always been a big part of the Inuit way of life and their traditional clothing represents that. Today items are still made traditionally but they also wear western cloths like you and I.

Josh Wood asked what I am most scared about?

That's a question I have asked myself often over the past 12 months. My biggest worry is if anything happened to my tent or my pulk (sledge). Life is pretty simple on this type of expedition, you carry everything you need for survival. Your tent (shelter), food and fuel and a means to carry it. If any of that fails or you lose it then your really in trouble, its as simple as that.

The environment your in needs to be respected and you need to do your homework and training before hand.

Its also a very beautiful place and I feel very fortunate to be visiting it. If you always took the safe option in life it could turn out to be very dull, I enjoy a challenge and to be able to follow my own path in life.

Pressure Ice

I awoke this morning to the sound of the tide coming in. We are camped on the frozen sea next to Iqaluit, however the tidal range is a massive 42 feet making it the 2nd biggest in the world. As the tide changes so does the the sea ice, it buckles, twists and cracks as the sea comes in and out. The chorus of groans, snap cracks and deep booms is something else and very magical.

This movement of the sea ice makes Iqaluit the perfect training ground for teams heading out on polar adventures. Best of luck to Tyler Fish and John Huston who left us today to head off on their north pole bid. Their website is

Sea ice piles up into formidable fortifications which need to be traversed safely. Our pulks today were loaded up with 20kg bags of dog food to equal the weight of an expedition pulk. We then set out on the most challenging orienteering courses I have ever done, pulling our pulks behind us and over the icy barriers .

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Learning the Skills for Huskie Expeditions

First question of the expedition is from Laura Edyveane from the Royal Academy for Deaf Education at Exeter.

Her question was what the temperature is like and have I seen any Polar Bears.

I haven't seen any bears yet and have been told that Iqaluit is not aa place for bears, however I expect to see lots of evidence further north and possibly be lucky enough to see one.

The temperature is pretty cold at the moment and always takes some time to get used to. At night its so cold that your breath will freeze on the sides of the inside of your tent. When I fly north in a few weeks to head out on my solo expedition I will expect colder temperatures as well!

Today was a fantantastic day learning to handle sled dogs. The bred here is a very old bred of dog which came across with the Inuit when they first came across from Asia, some 4,000 years ago.

In the 1960's Baffin sled dogs numbers were reduced as they Inuit people were moved into fixed communities. Today the Inuit prefer to use snow mobiles for hunting how eveer there is a big drive to save the bred and bring back dog teams.

Matty has taken her teams on expedition to the North Pole and her daughter Sarah and son Eric have also been involved with Will Stegers, Global Warming 101 expedition last year.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Fantastic day

What a fantastic day!

Yesterday was our first official day of our training course with Matty Mcnair at Northwinds, here in Iqaluit.

Matty and her family hold an impressive list of previous expeditions and polar experience.

She now offers a number of training courses from polar training to learning to kite ski as well as guided expeditions.

I am a big believer that you can never know enough and there is always something else to learn. I have been very impressed over the past few days of ways to modify equipment and how to make life a bit more comfortable at -40'c.

On that note last night was our first night sleeping in our tents, which is always a chilling experience! Yesterday we learnt about both traditional Inuit and expeditionary clothing which enables us to survive here in this beautiful but un forgiving environment.

Today we got our pulks (sledges) out on the sea ice and loaded them up with dog food bags.

This wasn't for us to eat but to add weight and simulate a 300lb north pole pulk. We then went out and traveled over the sea ice hauling our sledges.

At this point one of my ski bindings snapped! Lesson learned, Bewyn bindings are not the most supportive. Nothing beats testing kit, then actually testing it in the environment you need it for and is why I have come on this course before heading out solo.

Fantastic day and can't wait until tomorrow.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Arrived at Iqaluit - Baffin Island

After an epic two days of travel, starting at 4am on Saturday the 21st. I stopped off at Ottawa for a much needed nights rest at Dinesh's, a friends house. Then continued up on another 3 hour flight to Baffin.

Have arrived to find clear skies and am now very excited as I can finally relax. After 12 months of hard work and planning, I am back on Baffin!

A big thank you to Dinesh and Northern Canada for the help with the discounted flights.

Friday, 20 February 2009

The eve of departure

Well the times arrived finish the packing and start heading off. To be honest I am sat here writing this and surrounded by a 101 things that still need doing! Including further training on the camera equipment and last minute interviews.

I would be lying if I said that at this moment in time I’m not feeling a mixture of nervousness and excitement at the prospect of spending the next 6 weeks surrounded by nothing but a very large and desolate frozen arctic. I am being accompanied by Flat Stanley who was presented to me by the pupils and staff of Mawgan in Pydar School in Cornwall.

I officially head off tomorrow morning from Heathrow airport heading to Canada to commence 2 weeks of training, before heading off for my first village visit and then 2 weeks solo trekking across the Baffin to the next one.

Most of my time on Baffin will be spent meeting with the local inuit communities, hunting with them and talking to their local schools about climate change and discovering what effect it is having on them and their lifestyle.

I will be interested to see what changes have taken place since my visit last year; more directly is the fact that the National Park last year was closed due to excessive flooding. The park authorities have informed me that there was extensive damage and this is bound to have a direct effect on the running of this year’s expedition.

I look forward to keeping you all informed of my progress and of any problems that I encounter en route. The discussion board for schools to ask questions will be live on Monday in preparation for my first two weeks worth of training upon arrival on Baffin.

Lastly a big thank you to Tina from Tesco’s for all her help today and to PC World and Currys. Its very much appreciated.

If you have any questions or have any enquires whilst I am away please do not hesitate to get in touch with my assistants Cathie and Mihaela on the contacts page.